North Korea says tests were part of training for potential strikes against U.S. bases in Japan

North Korea said in its first statement since launching missiles on Monday the tests were part of training for potential strikes against U.S. bases in Japan.

Pyongyang’s state-controlled news agency KCNA said Tuesday “Comrade Kim Jong Un had provided field guidance to the Hwasong artillery unit of the Korean People’s Army.”

KCNA also stated the Hwasong unit were part of the training because it is “tasked with striking the U.S. imperial troops based in Japan, in the case of an emergency.”

The missiles were fired the minute Kim Jong Un “issued his order, at which moment ballistic rockets burst simultaneously in a thunderous explosion as they flew toward the brightening eastern sky, proudly leaving behind vapor trails that symbolized the destruction of the enemy.”

The North Korean leader reportedly expressed his satisfaction with the test, comparing the “simultaneous launches to a flying squadron.”

Kim said the ballistic missile launches send a warning to the enemy, and added North Korea’s military “fully demonstrated its power, and the ability to destroy the enemy in the most accurate, swift and thorough manner.”

According to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff on Monday, four missiles were fired in succession in 10 minutes, and each missile was launched at different angles.

On Monday the Pentagon said a fifth missile was launched but failed.

North Korea only confirmed the suspicion of South Korea military chiefs about the goals of its missile testing.

According to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff, three of the four missiles landed in Japanese territorial waters, making it likely North Korea is rehearsing attacks against U.S. military stations in Japan, from where reinforcements for the Korean peninsula would arrive in the event of war.

Seoul said all four projectiles were most likely midrange ballistic missiles that are not capable of reaching the continental United States, South Korean newspaper Kukmin Ilbo reported Monday.

The rockets, which all flew distances of 620 miles or less, could have been projectiles like the Rodong, the Scud-ER, or a modified missile like the Pukguksong-2, launched Feb. 12.

But the South Korea military is not ruling out the possibility that at least one of the missiles was an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, because of the location of the launch.

The station in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, has been the site of previously long-range rocket tests.

In another development, North Korea said on Tuesday it has temporarily banned Malaysians from leaving the country to ensure the safety of its diplomats and citizens in Malaysia.

The ban came amid an escalating row over the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam.

The North’s foreign ministry has notified the Malaysian embassy in Pyongyang of the reason for the measure and said it had hoped the case would be swiftly and fairly resolved in order to develop bilateral ties with Malaysia, the North’s KCNA news agency reported.

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